back to article UK employers sharpen job axe

Employers expect a dismal time ahead in the jobs market because of a rise in redundancies accompanied by a downturn in recruitment. According to the latest Labour Market Outlook survey, 29 per cent of businesses expect to hire new staff before the end of September – that’s half as many compared to the same period in 2004 when …


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  1. uk086242
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    "However, the CBI has argued that the 250,000 (roughly 40 per cent) kids attaining the required SATs standard should be automatically opted-in for the three science subjects..."

    If they wanted a way to increase the potential for school-leavers to NOT take a science course in HE, then this is one way of doing it. Children with the requisite smarts may actually PREFER to do something else. God forbid that children actually have a CHOICE in what they may want to do later in life.

  2. Hayden Clark

    Kids! Don't do science!

    ... cos you won't get a proper job afterwards!

    The CBI are complaining because there aren't enough suitably qualified candidates to keep the wages at minimum levels. They want you to join the herd, so that they can hire a few of you at £5 an hour.

    Any jobs that used to exist in the UK needing scientific or engineering training have been outsourced. If they haven't, they will soon.

    Study accountancy. or Law.

  3. TimM


    Give them a choice and they'll pick an easy option like media studies every time. That's why true sciences suffer. It's the same at University.

    Even goes for languages. I dropped French because it was optional at GCSE at the time, even though I would have probably done well at it. I wish I'd continued it now (if only so I know how to be rude to them whenever I'm over there). A few years earlier or later and I'd have been forced to take it. Instead I took an easy design subject. Got an A in it, but it's been crap all use to me really.

  4. David Woods

    Smart Kids Don't Study Science

    They will go for the qualifications to get them into the management class. Why be the monkey when you can be the organ-grinder?

  5. Anonymous Coward
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    Science is rewarding?

    Yeah right.

    I made the mistake of taking notice of a careers advisor when I left school in the early 90's.

    Being particularly skilled at Physics & Chemistry she told me to go for a science-based career.

    She neglected to mention the pay was quite poor & prospects here in the North West virtually non-existent.

    Net result is after 11 years & 4 different employers working mainly in laboratories I have ended up with an office job as there are more of them & they pay better too.

    Let the clever kids become lawyers or accountants, that's where the real money is after all. But whatever you do kids, don't go for a scientific career - you'll be on the scrapheap before you're 30 unless you are very very lucky.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    While there are well paid jobs in "defence", getting well paid work is very hard just off civilian science. Should you like to sleep at night that is. The amount of money a research scientist is paid anyone? Read New Scientist recently - the pay is abysmal. The newspaper are occasionally running stories on how research scientists are packing in their jobs to clean windows.

    Funnelling pupils down this route will merely create a massive brain-drain as we all bugger off for greener pastures elsewhere. Or worse, push them into more self-indulgent jobs such as property investors.

  7. oliver Stieber

    here's a solution.

    How about companies paying science workers a bit more money, that's usually a good way to get people interested.

    Mines the one with the fat wad of cash in the pocket.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you want scientists then you have to have the environment to foster them. For the last 10 years or so there has been a move against excellence in schools - all children should be at the same low level.

    What is needed is a lot more grammar schools not less. We also need teachers, and lecturers, that demand a high standard from their students.

    Much, if not all, of the problem can be placed at the door of those that think 'all people are created equal', even if they themselves consider they are more equal, when it is obvious that all people are NOT equal and never will be.

  9. alistair millington
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    You think this is democracy right... You think that the government wants your kids to actually have a choice... you think that giving children choice early on will set them up for a life in a country where you don't get choice is a good thing, so breed the choice element out an early age and it makes it easier later on to remove more and more of their "choice."

    The fact they learn something in school is a bonus, the fact someone is planning something that might teach them something they need is a bonus, who cares about choices...

    I am still impressed the three sciences weren't relabeled from "chemistry", "physics" and "biology" to "texting", "social newtworking" and the "xbox".

  10. Peter Kay

    *What* value in studying science?

    The reason people don't study science are 1) it's difficult 2) the pay is crap and 3) there aren't that many jobs.

    If they want to attract people to science then pay them a salary commensurate with the effort expended. Show them it is a worthwhile career and that the average scientist will be well rewarded, rather than just an elite few.

    There are plenty of people studying to be medical doctors, partly because they want to, but undoubtedly also because they are paid exceedingly well. Do you think this model might just possibly be applied elsewhere?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    It's all about the bottom line

    If the CBI wants children to follow a science curriculum, they must be prepared to offer the rewards, both financial and status to the individuals. It certainly seems easier be famous for no particular reason, than spending the required amount of time pursuing academic results just to fall into obscurity.

  12. Tom Wood

    Not just 'science' jobs

    Having studied science subjects at school doesn't mean you have to go on to be a 'scientist' - just any career that is vaguely scientific. Engineering and medicine particularly both need students with a scientific mind and background. (Do you think any of those well-paid doctors got where they are studying media studies and drama? I don't think so...).

    Perhaps equally concerning is the question of where to get all these good science (and maths) teachers from... since the good ones are probably earning more working in industry or research...

  13. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Why be the monkey when you can be the organ-grinder?

    Surely this DEMANDS the PH icon!!!

  14. Michael

    They don't want "scientists"

    They want micro-biologists, industrial- and bio-chemists and various types of specialist engineers.

    Having recently attended a post-graduate jobs fair which turned out to be mostly comprised of recruitment agencies, I wasn't terribly surprised when a "scientific recruitment specialist" was actually only offering jobs in pharmaceuticals, and the majority of offers being made to numerical scientists went along the lines of "have you ever thought about working in finance?"

  15. Evil Consultant
    Thumb Up

    Study science then go work in consulting or banking

    I studied for a master's degree (MChem) in chemistry at a very good university and got a very good 2:1. In my third year, I started looking around for the science internships and jobs that I'd one day want to work in. There weren't any, or at least none that I'd consider taking on the grounds that I could earn just as much money working in a bar. With some further research, I found that with my degree I could earn £20k tops as a chemist, with very limited scope for progression, or over £30k as a consultant, with scope for earning £250k+ per year in a decade's time.

    The search for truth, yes. The yearning for enlightenment, definitely. But then again a decent amount of cold, hard lucre would be nice too.

  16. Alexis Vallance

    Get real

    14 year olds don't care about job options when they pick what GCSEs to drop or take - it's all about doing what you want to do.

    Double award science is fine. If you really like science, do all three.

    There are not a shortage of scientists because not enough kids are choosing to do triple science at GCSE.

    You certainly can't punish kids who do well at science SATs by forcing them to drop a subject they might like and replace it with a science course at GCSE.

    Not to mention SATS are utterly utterly pointless, and they always have been. You just turn up on the day with no revision and get told you're a level 5, 6 or 7 a few weeks later. It's GCSEs that are important, not SATS!

  17. Joel

    Allow 2 single sciences instead of "Double Science"

    Why on earth are the only two options to either do a double science award of all three sciences, or to do the Triple Science option.

    Why not allow people to select from the sciences (as you used to be able to do) so that people could decide that they want to do maths and physics, but have no interest in doing biology. Or someone could keep up with biology, and chemistry, but decide that they want to drop the physics. Yet with all these options they study those sciences to the requisite depth as you would do with the Triple award.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Why would you choose science

    Well what are the good point about doing a science career?

    You choose to do a 'proper' degree which is more than a little harder than 3-4 years of 'meeja studies'.

    If you look for work as a graduate scientist you're looking at the thin end of £14k as a wage on a short term contract. That probably won't cover your student loan repayments.

    You'll live in a bedsit because you can't get a mortgage (and that was before the crunch) because short term contracts are too risky for the banks.

    I've got a BSC (Hons) in Pharmacology and Biochemistry and I gave up quite quickly with 300-500 graduates chasing the one permanent job in the big pharmaceutical companies.

    I have a cousin with BSc (Hons), and an MSc. He gave up science after 5 years of crap contracts.

    Tesco pays their checkout operators more than a grad scientist gets.

    If you're not doing a PhD there is no point. Better to work in Maccers. The pay and benefits are better.

  19. USA IT, where it all started

    Same over here

    We get the same self serving double talk on our side of the pond. The business leaders whine and cry about how they need more people to go into the sciences, while simultaneously outsourcing science jobs as fast as they can. It's about supply and demand. They are trying to increase the supply to lower the value. On the demand side, they outsource the jobs, which lowers demand (and costs) while making remaining workers less valuable (more workers than available jobs – you want one, you work for less).

    I don't know if you have this problem over there, but we also get the business groups using the “skilled worker shortage” whine as an excuse to get H1B visas – visas that allow skilled workers to be imported to fill science jobs for less pay. This is great for businesses, they fill the job for less, and the worker doesn't hold the visa – the company does. This last bit makes it nearly impossible for the worker to leave the job – nothing like a captive work force!

    I'm with the rest of you, I will NOT be recommending a science career for my children. I will be steering them toward medicine or law. This may change if business starts valuing the effort and intelligence it takes to get an advanced science degree, but I'm not holding my breath.

  20. Anonymous Coward
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    You have to laugh

    ...or you'd cry. The CBI want somebody, anybody but them to pay training costs for everything. At the same time they move every tech job in the country to low wages, or out of the country for lower wages. I've even read comment in a national broadsheet someone professing to be a CBI member describe employees as parasites. When it gets right down to it, we already have legislation allowing employers to recover training costs from departing employees.

    It really is about time some of these jokers realised that while they may or may not have the odd good idea themselves, the means of production are those "parasites". You gain from an employees training, you need to be contributing. I'm not talking about training where there is no business case....

    According to the jobcentre-plus website their are currently exactly zero IT positions in Birmingham. Don't count on a career in IT kids, despite all those nice training ads on tv. Science is great, right up until you try to get an employer to pay for some.

    Oh by the way CBI muppets, when you outsource production to China and a couple of weeks before your products ship you find out that the production facility has nicked your design, that's about what you deserve.

  21. Michael
    Dead Vulture

    How long have they been saying this?

    I remember the "biotechnology" hype of the mid eighties , and to my knowledge , this so-called shortage has been going on long before that .

    (There's a shortage of scientists/science teachers / mathematicians/yaddayaddayadda. )

    I think most people have given up listening ! They'll complain there aren't enough physicists to build power stations (and can speak russian/french) until they're blue in the face.. no-one cares anymore...

    Wonder if the CBI has an opinion on the whole Antiscience/Embryology debate :-p

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Where is the money?

    So, one of the key reasons why the UK has such problems persuading people to take science and engineering courses is because of the dearth of job prospects. I've got a friend from university. He got an excellent Oxford engineering degree, and earnt less than £20k for the first 10 years of his career in engineering. Quantitative degrees can get you jobs in things like finance to earn lots of money, but most of the jobs people end up in from engineering and science are just the same jobs they end up with after doing media studies. The difference being that the media studies degree just involved drinking beer for 3 years.

  23. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Its the same in engineering

    For a school leaver lets do 3-4 yrs of training with a company in bashing bits of metal together, have the smarts to figure out and use mastercam/solidworks/autocad(pick which one takes your fancy) and a further 5 yrs experience in fixturing, programming and general production bodging (hit the machine with a big hammer until it co-operates) nets you a magical basic pay of about £18 000-£20 000 a yr(than add overtime and unsocial hours)

    Or do easy A levels followed by a degree in golf management over 5 yrs and earn £25 000 a yr.....

    As for doing a science degree and earning less than I do as a result... stuff that!

    Boris Dip.Comp.(open)

    <<programming his robots to wipe up humanity ... starting with the 'b' ark candidates first

  24. evilbobthebob
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    Looks like that Astrophysics degree I'll be taking will be consigned to the back garden and amateur astronomy...

    On topic, science GCSEs are crap and haven't got better...I looked at the textbook for the current double award, and it had got easier than the one I took...last year. No point getting kids into science if they aren't taught anyhting worthwhile (wiring a plug in physics classes? Par for the course...)

  25. Dave

    How Times Have Changed

    I remember complaining about being underpaid twenty years ago, along with pretty much all my other engineering colleagues. However, in response to AC, I hit £20k five years after graduation, so perhaps your Oxford colleague didn't try hard enough. At the moment it's great, there's a shortage of good engineers so we're a little bit more valuable. Letting in loads of scruffy oiks would spoil that, although if they can start with the 10yr-olds then by the time they're any good I should have made my money and retired.

    It's interesting and worrying to see how few electronics graduates appear to have any clue about the subject (the ones that do really stand out). Perhaps the problem is that the wrong people are being pushed into this particular career path.

    The one constant over the years is that we all still consider that we're underpaid. (It's good fun though, but don't tell the management!)

  26. Mark

    Re: How long have they been saying this?

    the problem is that without legislation demanding you become a scientist, the only way companies will get science graduates is by paying them more.

    Demand is, if they aren't blowing smoke up our arse, exceeding supply.

    Which should mean the renumeration of scientists should go up.

    But that would mean less money for the beancounter and executives.

    So get the supply up and you can fill your vacancies without having to pay them more.

    They hope.

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